On October 5th 2005, I had the honor, indeed the great honor, to sail aboard the first Chinese officially registered sailboat in the history of the country. She was launched to promote keelboat sailing in China.
The boat, called Quing Dao, named after the lovely northern Chinese city, is a Hunter 466, built in, of all places, America.
Here in China they tell me it brings good luck to involve a foreigner in new events, so I guess that's why I was invited.
The new 46 foot sloop, which had visited 5 cities down the East coast of the country during the preceding two months, had a commercial sponsor. That sponsor is Haier Home Appliance Company, the fourth largest such company in the world. At every stop, Haier graciously created an "Event" out of the boats arrival and departure. With flags, balloons, speeches and music, each stop was transformed into a small Welcome Festival.
There was also a government sponsor. That was the Sailing Committee for the games of the XXIX Olympiad headed by Mr. Lao Dai the Olympic Sailing Committee advisor.
Speaking excellent English, which was a great help to me, members of the Olympic Committee hosted the crew in each stop and created a sort of "Handshake" between the 5 cities down the coast and the city of Quing Dao. Again, each ceremony included music, dancing, speeches and food as rich and delicious as I have ever tasted.
As a long time sailor, I was impressed with the captain and crew. The Captain, Guo Chuan, 40 is hugely qualified to be skipper. He has had a love of the sea all of his life and has made sailing his business for as long as he can remember. Guo is a sailing "Top Gun" with heart. He is clearly a man of great integrity and a natural diplomat.
Crewman Gao Young is an excellent First Mate and obviously loves his work. He is knowledgeable and works the boat with total concentration. I was in good hands here.